I went to Christchurch Radyr this morning to celebrate their midweek Eucharist, for half a dozen, as Jenny is on holiday. So too half the regulars of this congregation. After the service we sat in the side chapel, drank fresh coffee and chatted for half an hour before I returned home. After an early lunch I set out for town, and Eglwys Dewi Sant to attend the funeral of Bishop Cledan Mears, who had been one of my teachers what I was at St Michaels forty five years ago.
There was quite a full church, many of those present were clerics, retired or active, as well as Dewi Sant members. Cledan had been a regular worshipper here in his latter years, being a fervent enthusiast for the bi-lingual identity and character of the Church in Wales. Indeed, the prayers were in English and Welsh, and Archbishop Barry spoke the first half of his eulogy in Welsh and then concluded in English, making reference to this fact. At Dewi Sant normally, everything is entirely in Welsh, but this was an exceptional occasion, honouring an exceptional man.
I met up and chatted with Hywel Davies before and after the service. He's recently obtained his Permission to Officiate for the diocese in Europe, almost two years after he set out to do this after paying me a visit and ministering for a weekend in the Costa Azahar chaplaincy where I was doing locum duty. Knowing of the challenging number of vacancies in the Spanish archdeaconry at the moment I urged him to get in touch with churchwarden Bill in Fuengirola, whom I knew to be hunting for cover over the Christmas period this year, since I can't be there.
If all works out well, he will come and replace me from November until January. I'd already agreed to curtail my stay until the end of October to allow this period to be properly covered by someone else. No sooner had I discussed this last week, than the church warden of the Costa Azahar chaplaincy contacted me with a cry for help to cover November and December locum duties. I explained I could only do until 21st December, but he was keen to accept this much, as it would allow time for him to look for someone to cover Christmas and New Year. So it looks like Hywel will get his first Europe locum experience, and I will get a return visit to Costa Azahar, which I'd been thinking I'd like to return to one of these days to see how they have been coping for yet another year without a full time priest around.
For quite a different reason I'm glad of this opportunity. I'll get a chance to re-visit the Delta del'Ebre during late autumn, at the time when mass bird migrations from northern Europe to Africa are happening. Wonderful things to see on days off work!